Fluorinert is the trademarked brand name for the line of electronics coolant liquids sold commercially by 3M. It is an electrically insulating, stable fluorocarbon-based fluid, which is used in various cooling applications. It is mainly used for cooling electronics. Different molecular formulations are available with a variety of boiling points, allowing it to be used in "single-phase" applications, where it remains a liquid, or for "two-phase" applications, where the liquid boils to remove additional heat by evaporative cooling. An example of one of the compounds 3M uses is FC-72 (perfluorohexane, C6F14). Perfluorohexane is used for low-temperature heat-transfer applications due to its 56 °C (133 °F) boiling point. Another example is FC-75, perfluoro(2-butyl-tetrahydrofurane). There are 3M fluids that can handle up to 215 °C (419 °F), such as FC-70 (perfluorotripentylamine).
Fluorinert is used in situations where air cannot carry away enough heat, or where airflow is so restricted that some sort of forced pumping is required.
Fluorinert may be harmful if inhaled, and care should be taken to avoid contact with eyes and skin. No health effects are expected by ingestion of Fluorinert, however. Use should be constrained to closed systems and reduced volumes, as fluorinated oils have a very high global-warming potential and a long atmospheric lifetime.
Although Fluorinert was intended to be inert, the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory discovered that the liquid cooling system of their Cray-2 supercomputers could decompose during extended service to release highly toxic perfluoroisobutylene. Catalytic scrubbers were installed to remove this contaminant.
The science-fiction film The Abyss (1989) depicted an experimental liquid-breathing system, in which the use of highly oxygenated Fluorinert enabled a diver to descend to great depths. While several rats were shown actually breathing Fluorinert, scenes depicting actor Ed Harris using the fluid-breathing apparatus were simulated. This scene was removed in the United Kingdom, as it was seen as animal cruelty.
Global Warming Potential
Fluorinert absorbs UV wavelengths readily and has a long atmospheric lifetime. As such it has a very high global warming potential ("GWP") of 9,000. As such, it should be carefully managed and used in closed systems only so as to minimize emissions.
- "3M Manufacturing and Industry: 3M Fluorinert Electronic Liquids". 090519 products3.3m.com
- "Material safety data sheet FC-40 fluorinert brand electronic liquid 03/25/09". 090519 multimedia.3m.com
- "Fluorinert FC70 Product Information" (PDF).
- Kwan, J. Kelly, R, Miller G. Presentation at the American Industrial Hygiene Conference, Salt Lake City, UT, May 1991
- ALJEAN HARMETZ; FILM; 'The Abyss': A Foray Into Deep Waters - The New York Times
- Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Air and Radiation. "Report EPA-430-R-06-90 : Uses and Emissions of Liquid PFC Heat Transfer Fluids from the Electronics Sector" (PDF). WWW.EPA.GOV.